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Sensor-Based Landing Aid

Published: November 13, 2013

Safe helicopter landings even in poor visibility

The sensor system currently under development at ESG will enable helicopters to land safely even in low visibility. Photo © ESG Elektroniksystem- und Logistik-GmbH.

Helicopters landing on loose terrain frequently stir up clouds of dust or sand (called 'brownouts') or snow ('whiteouts') that considerably impair the pilot's vision. In extreme cases, the pilot even has to abort the landing attempt and make a second approach. This wastes valuable time, especially during rescue and evacuation operations. ESG is therefore developing a sensor-based landing aid (SeLa) that uses dust-penetrating radar sensors to display the helicopter's position over the ground and enables the pilot to land safely, even in poor visibility.
Tests with dSPACE Simulator and MicroAutoBox
To implement the SeLa algorithms according to specifications within engineering and qualification tests, a dSPACE Simulator is used as the first step. Its main components are a DS1006 quad-core processor board for computing the real-time model, a DS2202 HIL I/O Board for measuring and generating various signals, and two ARINC 429 Interface Boards. The test sequences are created and automatically executed with the test automation tool AutomationDesk. When the tests are completed successfully, the next step is to give the pilot a feel for the algorithms by running them on a MicroAutoBox in a flight simulator so that functions can be checked and optimized via a human-machine interface (HMI).
Upcoming Test Flights 
Following intensive development work, the SeLa project has reached a major milestone. Consortium partners Eurocopter Deutschland, the company in charge of design, and ESG, the system developer, have signed an agreement with the public sector contractor to carry out installation and tests in the transport helicopter Sikorsky CH-53 GS.
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